The combinations of two or more phytochemicals bring about changes in the ultimate biological effects and/or the bioavailability of each component. A number of mixtures of pure bioactive compounds or phytochemical-containing plant extracts provide synergy with regard to antioxidant status, anti-inflammation, anti-cancer and chemoprevention of several oxidative stress and metabolic disorders in vitro. The biological activities of food phytochemicals depend upon their bioaccessibility and bioavailability which can be affected by the presence of other food components including other bioactive constituents. The interactions between phytochemicals during intestinal absorption could result in changes in the bioavailability of the compounds, which in turn affects the intensity of their bioactivities. This paper provides an overview of combined biological effects of phytochemical mixtures derived from fruits and vegetables with a focus on anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activities. The bioavailability impairment or enhancement caused by the co-consumption of dietary phytochemicals is also discussed. Finally, research gaps for future studies on phytochemical interactions are identified.
Keywords: Bioactive compounds; anti-carcinogen; anti-inflammation; antioxidant capacity; antioxidant synergy; bioavailability; phytochemical interaction.